kimberly and lisa congdon // senn & sons

Shortly after Freddie was born and shortly before leaving our home in San Francisco, I was lucky enough to meet one of my favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. She’s an incredibly talented Bay Area painter, illustrator, letterer, collector and now author, with a seemingly unlimited supply of creative energy.

Lisa announced last week that her latest book, Art, Inc. would be released late this summer and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. As someone who changed careers in my thirties, I’ve always been inspired by Lisa’s story as an artist – she also spent years pursuing other paths and didn’t start painting until her early thirties. Her success and downright cheerful attitude makes me want to work even harder to achieve my own version of success, and I’m sure this book will provide plenty of tips and inspiration to do just that.

art inc

 

I know that a lot of good things come from drinking margaritas with my girlfriends, but I never would have guessed that something THIS amazing would have happened.

Being able to collaborate with two of my dearest (and also insanely talented) friends on this short film for Senn & Sons was such an incredible gift.

The ringleader of the whole project is Maribeth Romslo – photographer and filmmaker extraordinaire. Her company Hello Sunshine Films is taking off, naturally, with her clever storytelling abilities and eye for gorgeous visuals.

She created the most wonderful piece that perfectly captures what I do and why I do it, from the inspiration for my designs through the entire process of creating prints.

But really, what more is there to say? This book’s already been made into a movie.

(Oh, there’s one more thing. THANK YOU for making this beautiful film, Mari!)

Shop Small.

11.30.13 | POSTED BY kim IN business, Inspiration

 

small business // via Senn & Sons // graphic by @1924us

 

With our bellies full of turkey and Black Friday nonsense behind us, let’s get out there and support our local small businesses today. I feel lucky to live in Minneapolis where we have a vibrant and creative small business community, which is so inspiring to me.

I know that most of the small businesses around here are  offering discounts in-store and online, so you can definitely take advantage of those deals today! If you check out the American Express Small Business Saturday site, you can even get $10 back when you spend $10 or more at a qualifying small business.

Happy shopping!

{{ image source : @1924us, 1924 x US }}

Senn & Sons - NYC street art

What a city. I’m lucky to have called it home at one point in my life and thoroughly enjoy visiting now that my roots are firmly planted in Minneapolis. My time there years ago produced so many amazing, life-long friendships that pick up right where we left off each time I visit. While an unmatched energy pulses day and night with seemingly endless options for eating, drinking, shopping and entertainment, my favorite part of the city is still spending time with those friends.

(Despite their above-average levels of attractiveness, it appears I took very few pics of these “friends.” Here are a few shots from my iPhone instead.)

Senn & Sons - view from roof of The Standard NYC

(views from the standard, east village)

Senn & Sons NYC street from above

Senn & Sons - NYC Street Art

(mural by revok + pose, bowery & houston streets, detail above)

 Senn & Sons - Barista at Gasoline Alley NYC

Senn & Sons // Gasoline Alley NYC

(stopped for a cortado at gasoline alley)

Senn & Sons // Wedding in Stone Ridge NYC

(elm rock inn, stone ridge, ny)

A huge congratulations to our friends whose marriage gave us the best reason to fly out to NYC for a visit. It was truly an incredible celebration!

 

My husband thinks it’s kind of weird, but still kind of cool, that I wanted to turn some old redwood floorboards into a piece of artwork.

I’m not going to say it was easy, but it was actually a completely fun process to go through. I guess when I get something in my head, I have to figure out a way to make it happen – even if that means employing cheap (free!) child labor.

From stripping the many layers of paint off this gorgeous, rich redwood to sanding it down and linking the planks together to form canvases, every step of the process was exciting and sort of unknown. We didn’t know if the layers of paint would easily come off. We didn’t know if it would look good to leave some of the old paint on the boards to add character to the piece. We didn’t know if hand-distressing painted floorboards would feel authentic or schlocky.

Now, I’m not saying this was all done completely uninformed. There was plenty of research and testing that went into the process before putting non-toxic paint stripper to wood, but overall, it definitely was a learn-as-you-go experience. I just kept referring back to what I wanted to create – it was in my head – and knew what I needed to do to make it happen.

The project started out as an idea I had after putting together this Modern Americana mood board based on the brief I got from my client, then it moved into a full-blown concept and finally,  a finished piece. I stressed the details. I took my time. And I am really happy with how everything turned out. It’s so different from my other work, yet somehow fits right in.

What do you think?

***

See the mood board post here. And a post about the supplies shopping trip here.

J’adore Le Labo.

06.24.12 | POSTED BY kim IN Inspiration

Apparently buying perfume doesn’t have to suck anymore. What was once an overwhelming sensory experience in a poorly lit department store with aggressive sales people spraying fragrances at you while you attempted to dodge them and their musky weapons, can actually be quite pleasant now. But you must go to a little place filled – but not overfilled – with delicious fragrances, lotions, candles and detergents… Le Labo.

The woman who helped me find the perfect perfume (Meg, you’ll love her too) told me all about the company, the founders, the new things coming and we chatted about how cool it is that each bottle is created by hand right in the store’s “lab.” (Aptly named, of course.) Once my fragrance was mixed, Meg handed over the most perfect, simple, personalized package I’ve ever seen.

I’m a sucker for good branding and packaging, and this whole experience pretty much tops my charts. And my goodness, I can’t forget to mention how amazing this stuff smells. I suppose that’s just as important as serving it up in a cute bottle.

(I bought that fragrance with my own hard-earned pennies and wasn’t perked for writing about it.)

I love the website Project Nursery for a million reasons. They’re such an amazing resource for all things nursery and party design, plus they’ve built up an amazing community of people who support each other’s design and creative efforts! I’ve been reading the blog for years now – starting before I was pregnant with my son and have always been so impressed with their content. I’ve loved watching the site grow to be what it is today.

I finally upload my first project to the Project Gallery, and the editors chose it as one of the best of the week! I feel so honored to have been included with three other adorable nurseries and parties in their Favorites of the Week that I just wanted to share it here.

If you have a minute, click on my project page HERE and “like” it. Hopefully the Sassy Southern Baby Shower for sweet Ruby will be a fan favorite!

Modern Americana.

05.20.12 | POSTED BY kim IN Inspiration

There are some projects that arrive in my inbox and as soon as I start to work on them, I feel a little intimidated. At that moment, I know I need to step back, take a break and reevaluate how I should approach it. The “Modern Americana” project is the perfect example of this, and I couldn’t be MORE excited to be working on it. I had to break my patterns and think about things in a completely new way, and in the end, I’m pretty sure it is going to be one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had the chance to do.

My client is a brilliant woman who is in the midst of government training before she embarks on an assignment for the U.S. State Department as a diplomat in Sri Lanka. Beyond her very impressive career, she’s also a dear friend of mine and I’m honored to have a chance to create art for her new home halfway across the world! Having familiar imagery, colors and materials will (hopefully) create a sense of “home” in an unfamiliar place.

I’ve already begun shopping for new materials for the project, and am finding the whole process completely energizing. The mood board I created will inspire the finished piece.

Since it appears to be spring in places that have seasons, that can mean only one thing. Spring Cleaning. I suppose it can also mean baseball season starting, gearing up for backyard BBQ’s and dusting off the 8 pound dumbbells to get in shape for summer. But mostly, I think it means Spring Cleaning.

Part of that is getting a fresh start on organizing your home. (Dudes, I’m terrible at this. I’ve actually had to ask for help because I’m so terrible at being organized.) But my friends over at 1000memories actually came up with something pretty cool that may help with part of the spring cleaning process. They developed a super handy (and totally free) app called Shoebox that essentially turns your  smart phone into a scanner that allows you to capture images of your old photos and documents directly to your phone and their website, creating online collections of memories. What I think is actually kind of unique to this app is that you can keep all of your photos completely private, until you choose to share with specific people, or you can link it up with your Facebook timeline and share away. It’s nice to have that kind of control.

To help share how their site works, the folks at 1000memories “discovered,” then sent out a few shoeboxes to bloggers (and friends) across the country. When this gorgeous old wooden box showed up on my doorstep, I was excited to dig into the story that lived inside it.

Shoebox #9 was chock full of treasures, all of which can be seen here on 1000memories - if you click on the photos, you’ll be able to see more details about each one.

This is Milly and Frank, and the letters, photos, ticket stubs and trinkets were all part of their story as a couple. So sweet, and so interesting to be able to take a peek into their life together and watch their budding romance over the decades. Everything here was from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, some pretty incredible stuff.

This photo of Milly and Frank on a dock was my favorite, which you can see more closely here.

If you’re in the midst of spring cleaning and come across an old box filled with photos and memories, I’d highly recommend Shoeboxing them. Hey, it’s a lot easier than trying to make a scrapbook and a lot more fun than letting the stuff sit inside a dark closet.

You can download Shoebox free here or directly from the iTunes store.

(Note: While the kind folks at 1000memories sent me this lovely collection of memories to explore while discovering their product, I was not compensated for writing this post. It’s 100% my opinion, which I’m always happy to share.)

Okay, so I kinda slacked on getting my second and third anniversary posts written, but I still wanted to capture a few things that I thought might be fun to recap. I also want let you guys know about what’s coming up for Senn & Sons in the coming months.

What was:

The first year of business was a huge, and massively surprising, success. To me, anyway. I painted more than 65 original triptychs, most of them custom commissions… to be honest, there are a handful of sets that still live in my studio since I’m not 100% happy with how they turned out. Call it quality control.

The blog went from 0 to 122 posts. That’s a lot, but I hope to do even more in the coming year. At first I was worried that I’d run out of things to say, but, true to my personality, that’s never been a problem.

Some of the best moments of the year were the unexpected ones. The incredible women at Sprout San Francisco started to sell my paintings, and then, happily, opened up a second store in NYC, making Senn & Sons bicoastal! Another great twist of fate was when a friend opened her own printmaking studio and gallery, and somehow still found time to teach me about screen-printing. You can definitely expect to be hearing where that heads in the coming months.

Getting the word out was also important to me, and the Birth & Baby Fair at Fort Mason here in San Francisco opened up the opportunity to meet a lot of great people. I loved being able to meet clients and others who were interested in my work face to face. Hopefully more opportunities to do that come along, even if it means meeting and talking to people through Facebook, Twitter and blog comments.

What’s to come:

So that’s the first year of business, but what’s even more exciting to look forward to the year to come. I’ve got new products up my sleeve just itching to be released into the world. Stuff that’s going to make my artwork a bit more accessible to a lot more people. I’ve found some great partners to help me make it all happen. Along with that, sennandsons.com is getting a MASSIVE redesign! I can’t wait to write more about this process, but I want to keep some things a surprise.

I gotta admit that I’m jumping-out-of-my-seat excited about what all these steps mean for me and Senn & Sons. I’ve got new designs brewing, photo shoots being planned and a seriously talented designer in Minneapolis working on my website. So, here we go on Year 2. With a little luck, there’ll be no sophomore slump for Senn & Sons.